I find in this nothing unnatural, and a great deal that is edifying, a great deal of high humanity.
Excerpted from a letter of Thomas Mann (1875-1955)
to Carl Maria von Weber, dated July 4, 1920;
quoted in Ronald Hayman,
Thomas Mann:A Biography (1995), page 250.
The moment of youth comes into play here, or a magic that the feelings are prone to confuse with beauty, so that youth, unless disfigured by flaws that cause too much discomfort, will most often be perceived as beauty, even by itself, as its smile unmistakably indicates. It has charm--a manifestation of beauty which by its nature oscillates between the masculine and the feminine. A boy of seventeen is not beautiful in the sense of mature masculinity. Nor is he beautiful in the sense of a simply hypothetical femininity--that would be most unappealing. But undeniably, the charm of youthful beauty always inclines a little towards the feminine in both spirit and form. That lies in its essence, its tender relation towards the world and the world's to it, based on and expressed in its smile. At seventeen, it is true, one can be lovelier than woman or man, lovely like woman and man, lovely in both ways and all ways, pretty and beautiful, to a degree that turns the heads of both men and women.
In Gesammelte Werke, Vol.4, pp. 394-95; quoted in Hayman, op. cit., pp. 390-91.